Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Obsessively Square Quilt Back

It started innocently enough. First was the raging curiousity and then the first tug on a thread. Then another and another. First on one side and then another. Next thing I knew, there was a thread-ball the size of a tea cup poodle and I was ripping out a seam too.

Amy's free motion quilting adventures
The first little threads that sparked my curiousity. Nobody can cut so perfectly that you won't have an occasional thread poking out from a cut edge. But I had several, all facing the same direction, good sign of a diagonal-ish cut.

Maybe I was bored, waiting for the snow to fall. Maybe it was a desire to control something completely down to the tiniest detail, when there is a potential life changing event in my future that is pretty much dependent on a third party. But I now have a completely square quilt backing.
And the pulling began.

Having a square quilt back is important, having those grain lines running parallel with the sides or top, depending on whether it's the legthwise or crosswise grain, and with the grain of the top too. But it doesn't have to be obsessively square.

A backing needs to be square to hang the best, say in a show. Long arm quilters need the back to be square to attach it to their frames without rippling. Certainly, squarish backs have less puckering and rippling issues when quilting.

But this quilt? Really, the pieced back was already pretty close to square and it was to be a bed quilt. But curiousity took hold and I wanted to see just how close it was. So I pulled some threads.

There are several ways to square up fabric for use in a quilt, a quilt back, and also garment sewing. I don't feel like any of them are the definitive method and we're talking fabric that can wiggle and stretch. I'm not horribly confident in how I square up fabric, so I resorted to thread pulling. It's the best way I know, though probably the most time consuming method, to make sure the grain is straight.

I ended up taking the seam out and restitching it up the center of the back, though it was maybe off by an eighth of an inch at the most from the lengthwise grain, but the two pieces were maybe stitched out of crosswise grain by a half an inch. Probably not an issue, but once I had it all straightened up, I figured I might as well get it as close as possible.

Arrow points to the seam where it was off by about half an inch and the other corner is off by about a quarter.

I probably ought to channel all that obsessive attention to detail and energy towards house cleaning, but the hubby is home, the snow is falling (3+ inches is my guess), and I'm gonna get this thing basted and get to quilting!

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